Tag Archives: diet tips

The 3 Fitness W’s for Success in 2015

Every year in January gyms across the nation become filled with new and enthusiastic people attempting to accomplish their new year’s resolution to lose weight.  People start by joining and maybe even get a coaching session or the latest weight loss supplement but by February already start to drop off from the gym.  While training a client and seeing the influx of people at a normally non-peak time, we discussed what it would actually take to make people successful with their weight loss goals.  Together we came up with the 3 W’s for weight loss; water, weightlifting and willpower. If people were to follow these simple rules they would significantly increase their chances of achieving their goals.

As much as 75% of Americans are considered to be chronically dehydrated, and water use is one of the most underutilized tools in weight loss.  Our bodies are composed of 60% water and our muscle tissues are 75% water! Water is necessary in the uptake of nutrients and minerals into our cells and studies have been shown that just by drinking 2 glasses of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner has shown that people eat less.  Incorporating more water in the diet is essential for success.  A good starting point for water consumption is to take your body weight (lbs) and drink half of that number in ounces.  So a 200lb person would drink approximately 100oz of water a day.  The added benefit of this is that you will have to use the restroom on a relatively consistent basis which will also get you up from your work desk and get you moving and burning more calories.

Weightlifting is the second W for realizing your weight loss goals. People still fail to realize that lifting weights actually burns more calories than running steady state cardio. When Penn State researchers put dieters into three groups—no exercise, aerobic exercise only, or aerobic exercise and weight training—they all lost around 21 pounds, but the lifters shed six more pounds of fat than those who didn’t pump iron. Why? The lifters’ loss was almost pure fat; the others lost fat and muscle. Muscle loss may drop your scale weight, but it doesn’t improve your reflection in the mirror and it makes you more likely to gain back the flab you lost.

The hardest W to stay focused is willpower: The American Psychological Association calls willpower “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” Ultimately its hard work to lose weight and only you can resist foods that will hinder your progress, but here are several techniques to combat temptation when it arises. Set short and long-term goals to keep you motivated.  It can be hard to see yourself progressing; setting short-term goals constantly allows you to see the progress within reach. It’s also important to keep track of all of the short-term goals you are achieving, whether it’s in a journal or on your computer. If you keep a list of everything you have achieved, it is a constant reminder that you do have the power to achieve your goals. If dieting is a struggle, try some of these tricks:

Keep healthy snacks on you when you feel the urge to eat, so if your blood sugar drops and you get hungry you can fill up on healthy choices.  Another idea is to eat off a smaller plate, according to Cornell research, people who eat off of six-inch plates think they’re eating about 18 percent more food than they actually are. The ability to control willpower will be one of the single greatest factors to accomplish long-term success.

The 3 W’s are a simple approach to making 2015 a healthier year. By drinking water, lifting weights, and starting with a plan for willpower should set your year for great results.

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The Conflict of Interest with Dietary Supplement Recommendations

Personal Trainers always are always look to maximize their time and money while doing training sessions month after month.  Once established as a certified personal trainer, you set your rate with clients (or your training facility does), and fill your schedule with as many clients as you can until inevitably trainers reach a plateau. Either you have some sanity in your day, and allow a healthy work/life balance, or you have more clients than you can handle and work 14 hour days training non stop. Either way your income hits a snag, and the certified personal trainer looks for alternative sources of revenue to boost their bottom line. The growing trend seems to be advising clients and other health conscious people on diet and workout supplements. This article will address some of the issues with the personal trainers and companies selling nutritional supplement to make extra money.

The client/certified personal trainer relationship is meant to be based on trust as well as a trainer having a competent understanding of the body and how to get their client to exercise safely, efficiently, and effectively. This is in the personal trainers scope of practice, to practice and preach what they learned either from a degree or certification, or both. Today, more personal trainers are veering away from their scope of practice and offering nutritional and dietary advice to their clients with no training in order to make more income. The conflict of interest arises when trainers get paid money make to make recommendations for certain dietary supplement companies. Whats even worse is you have lay people also recommending these products with no knowledge of whats in them.  You may have seen reps for companies such as Advocare, BodyByVi, Herbalife, and Juice Plus just to name a few.  They use a MLM system to recruit trainers as well as everyday people to pitch their fitness products to the masses in hopes of getting more people to rep product. The issue with many of these products is that they have never been reviewed by the FDA, and their quality is only “certified” by the companies who distribute them.

Due to The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, the FDA has limits on when and how they can act when it comes to dietary supplementation.  To many peoples surprise the supplement industry is very loosely regulated by the FDA. Basically, there is no regulation until a product is brought to the FDA documenting harmful affects.  A perfect example of this was back in 2009, the #1 dietary supplement on the market Hydroxycut which claimed to help burn body fat. Hydroxycut was finally was pulled after it was determined to have caused 23 serious health concerns including liver failure, and a fatality. This goes to show that what people can potentially recommend for you has no safety factors and potentially could be very harmful to your body. Shortly after being pulled from the market, Hydroxycut changed their formula and now can be found in supplement stores nationwide.  They also reformulated a second time after another death occurred while some was taking their product.

To best illustrate the conflict, I can look back at my story and the decision I had to make while considering a job offer. I moved to Atlanta in 2011 looking to break into the fitness industry.  I was certified and ready to make a difference in peoples lives through exercise.  I had a job interview from an in home personal training company whose owner also happened to be a representative from one of the companies mentioned above.  Since I was not trained in nutrition, or a R.D. I did not feel comfortable going beyond my scope of practice.  Here are two of the email exchanges:

Me:  I am interested in the personal training aspect especially if it’s around the city. I’m not thrilled about the product or a lot of the reviews it’s getting online and it’s reputation. If any due diligent customer did some research on the product they would at best get mixed reviews. If there is a market in the city then I would like to train those people but until I review the product more I would not push it to every client. Would that be a problem?
His Response was as follows:
I know you are skeptical man, and I don’t blame you.  If its not right for you now, maybe it will be down the line sometime.  I look at the Redacted angle like this;  I have been recommending Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey for the last 5 years.  I feel confident in them because they are the #1 protein brand in the world.  I bet I have convinced well over 100 people to buy the product.  And what has that gotten me in return?  The answer is NOTHING.  When I go buy the product, its still FULL price.  When my clients go buy the product, its still FULL price.  At some point, we need to be compensated for our recommendations.

This was the introduction I received in the fitness industry, regardless of the benefit of the product to the client, make sure you are compensated.

So in conclusion, I hope that before you opt to put something in your body, please do the research. Do I need this? Can I get these same benefits from food? Does the person have proper training to recommend this product?  If you can ensure well balanced meals are eaten on a regular basis, there shouldn’t be a need for supplementation. Combine healthy eating with exercise and the health benefits are exponential.

Ten Tips to Tone that Tummy and Blast Belly Fat for Good!

Tired of doing crunches everyday and still not melting that muffin top? The solution may be simpler than stepping up your sit-ups. The truth is, it’s just not possible to spot-train any one muscle group, and that includes your abdomen. Even if it’s the only problem area you struggle with, ab exercises alone aren’t enough to pulverize that pooch. The key to a toned tummy involves a combo of diet, cardio, and core-strengthening moves. Read on for our top ten tips to help you whittle your middle and have you strutting in your skinny jeans in no time!

1. Fill up with Fiber

Fiber not only fills you up, helping you to consume less calories during the day, but it also helps transport the foods you eat through your body quicker. This allows your body to absorb less calories, and banishes belly bloat to boot! Try to incorporate more fiber-rich fruits into your diet such as apples, berries, and pears, as well as whole grains like quinoa and brown rice. Experts recommend getting 25 to 35 grams of fiber daily.

2. Own Your Omega-3s

We all know omega-3s are essential to a heart-healthy diet, but did you know they can also do wonders for your waistline? These healthy fats promote fat burning by making your metabolism more efficient. So, if you tend to carry a little extra pudge in your pants, upping your omega-3s will help to metabolize and melt that unwanted ab flab. Aim for at least two servings of fatty fish such as salmon or tuna per week, along with an ounce of almonds or peanuts (about 23) every day.

3. Perfect Your Proteins

The more muscle you build, the more fat you burn, and without protein you can’t build those muscles. The complex make-up of protein-rich foods make these foods harder for your body to digest, meaning your body uses more energy to digest them. In short, this means that you burn more calories when you eat protein. The amino acids found in protein also help speed up muscle recovery after a workout, helping you to build muscle more efficiently. To figure out how much protein you should be eating, multiply your body weight in pounds by .37. That number is the minimum amount of protein grams your body needs per day, but you may need more depending on how much you exercise. Make sure to stick to lean proteins such as turkey, chicken, eggs, fish, beans, and tofu.

4. Reach for Red Fruits

Recent studies have shown that compounds found in both watermelon and tomatoes help to reduce lipids (fat) in the blood which in turn helps to control belly fat. In one such study, women were given watermelon juice every day for eight weeks. The women ended up reducing their body weight and belly fat significantly more than those who were not given the watermelon juice. So add more tomatoes to your diet by topping a salad or using in soups and sauces, and enjoy a cup of cubed watermelon with breakfast or as a midday snack.

5. Keep up the Cardio

Everybody has a six pack; whether or not you can see it depends on how much fat it’s hiding behind. The best way to shed that extra layer around your abdomen is through cardiovascular exercise. As you lose extra fat, your skin will become more taut, and as the fat within your muscles decreases, you will begin to looked more toned. To reach that fat-burning zone, you want to get your heart rate up and keep it up for twenty minutes. For optimal fat-burning, shoot for five intense, twenty minute cardio sessions each week.

6. Target Your Core

Instead of doing endless sets of crunches which only work the rectus abdominis (the largest abdominal muscle), you need to pay attention to the other muscles that make up your core as well, such as your obliques and transversus abdominis (your “lower abs”). Target your core as a whole with moves such as medicine ball slams, planks, dumbbell side bends, sit-ups with a medicine ball toss, and twisting crunches. For more information on core strengthening moves and how to perform them properly, check out www.exrx.net.

7. Engage Your Abs

This is an easy little trick that you can do in and out of the gym. While working out in the gym, keep your back straight and tighten your abs during both cardio and weight training exercises. This way, even if you aren’t doing ab-specific workouts that day, you will still be engaging those abdominal muscles. When you’re not at the gym, practice good posture while standing and sitting, and keep those abs tight. Not only will you look better by standing up straighter, you’ll be getting in a little extra ab work too.

8. Stave Off Stress

Stress activates the secretion of cortisol, a hormone in our bodies that, at prolonged increased levels can lead to higher blood pressure, higher levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol), and ultimately, more belly fat. To keep cortisol levels under control, you need to learn to manage your stress levels in a healthy way. Whether it’s yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, or treating yourself to a monthly massage, be sure to find a stress reliever that keeps you cool under pressure.

9. Rest Up

Lack of sleep is another factor that can negatively affect your body’s cortisol levels. Not getting enough shut-eye messes with your body’s natural biorhythms, which can also trigger cravings for sugar and fatty foods. Not only that, but the longer you are up during the day, the more you’ll likely eat. That said, get 7 to 8 hours a night when possible.

10. Beware the Booze

While alcohol isn’t the only culprit in developing the dreaded “beer belly,” there is something to the saying. When you drink alcohol, your body burns that off first, meaning that it blocks your body’s ability to burn fat. Add to that the fact that when drinking, we don’t always use our best judgement when choosing what foods to eat, and often eat more or less healthy foods than we typically would, and you have a recipe for belly fat. The best thing you can do is stick to the USDA Dietary Guidelines for alcohol consumption: one drink per day for women, and two for men.

One Last Word…

The most important thing to remember is that there is no magical pill for toning your tummy. If there were, we’d all be on it. It takes hard work and a lot of patience to get the results you desire. So skip the pills and powders and contraptions that claim to magically melt away your muffin top, and remember that diet and exercise are the only real keys to success.

Just….don’t.

 

 

Have a Diet-Friendly Fourth: 10 Healthy Travel Tips to Keep You on Track!

The Fourth of July is finally here, and it is estimated that 40 million Americans have travel plans this weekend. If you’re among the many Americans getting away this holiday, you’re likely looking forward to kicking back, relaxing with a drink or two, and indulging a little more than you typically do (as you should!). But while relaxing on your diet and enjoying some Fourth of July fare is perfectly ok, you don’t want to overdo it and end up having to pack away that bikini long before Labor Day. To avoid overindulging on vacation this week, here are 10 helpful hints to keep you healthy while away from home.

1. Just One Treat a Day Will Help Keep the Fat Away.

Everyone deserves to treat themselves while on vacation. After all; how do you pass up an ice cream cone on a hot day, a fruity drink while on the beach, or a juicy burger at a July Fourth barbecue? The answer? You don’t! Just limit yourself to one treat per day, and opt for healthier choices the rest of the time.

What’s summer vacation without a little ice cream?

2. Walk the Weight Off.

People underestimate the effectiveness of walking for weight loss. While walking won’t burn the calories that an intense gym session will, it will still help to counteract some of those extra calories consumed on vacation. So while out of town this week, remind yourself to walk. Go for a hike, go shopping or sightseeing on foot, or just walk along the beach. Every little bit of physical activity counts, so make sure you’re getting in a little exercise each day.

A moderate walk can burn up to 300 calories per hour!

3. Hydrate for Health

It’s easy to forget to drink enough water while away on vacation, but it’s extra important to stay hydrated when spending time under the sun. Be sure to keep a bottle of water with you while engaging in outdoor activities, and have a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume.

Don’t forget to toss a couple of these into the cooler!

4. Sip Smart

If you plan on kicking back with a few drinks this weekend, choosing what you drink can have a major impact on the number of calories you consume. If the specialty cocktail at the swim-up bar sounds just too good to pass up, go ahead and order one, but just one. Opt for a lower calorie option such as a light beer or a liquor and diet soda for your second round. And as always, remember that all alcohol has calories, so the more you drink, the more calories you’re clocking in.

It may look harmless, but this can pack a meals’ worth of calories!!!

5. Beware the Buffet!

No matter where you’re vacationing this summer, the one thing you can count on running into is an “all you can eat” buffet. While it makes mealtime easier on restaurant and resort staffs during peak travel times, it can do major damage to your diet. The key to eating smart when dining at a buffet is to choose mainly healthy options, and not take the term “all you can eat” literally. Consider starting your meal with a salad to help fill you up a bit before hitting the main courses. Then, stick to one dinner plate and load up on healthier items that are grilled, steamed, or baked rather than breaded or fried, along with plenty of veggies. If you’re craving a menu item that’s less than figure-friendly, let yourself have it, but have just a small taste.

Decisions, decisions…

6. Be Snack Savvy on the Road.

Road trips can be exhausting, and gas/food stops become much-needed breaks from a long, dull drive. Unfortunately, they can also become a danger-zone for dieters. Between the fast food joints and the endless supply of chips and candy at the gas station, it’s easy to let healthy habits go before you even reach your destination. Avoid this calorie conundrum by packing healthy snacks before you hit the road. Choose snacks with fiber and protein that will fill you up without filling you out, such as mixed nuts, whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheddar, or whole wheat wraps with almond butter and banana slices.

Stay outta here!

7. Choose One Active Activity.

Sure, the idea behind a break is rest and relaxation, but being active at least one day while on vacation can boost your metabolism, burn some extra calories, as well as open you up to a new experience. So whether it be a nature walk, kayaking, zip-lining, or surf lessons, book at least one active excursion to get you up and moving.

Sure beats just sitting on the beach!

8. Don’t Forget Your Fruits and Veggies!

While on vacation, remind yourself to aim for five servings of fruit and veggies per day. Not only will this help you to maintain proper nutrition while away from home, but it will make you more aware of what you’re eating throughout the day. When dining out, order meals that include veggies and/or fruit, and bring portable snacks such as apples, bananas, or carrot sticks and hummus with you while on the go.

Don’t forget to pack these in your beach bag!

9. Split Your Servings

We already know that restaurant portions are grossly oversized, so instead of devouring a giant dinner and dessert, then washing it down with a side of guilt, consider sharing meals with whomever is traveling with you. You’ll still get to have what you want, just less of it. Also, restaurant appetizers are usually much smaller than entrees, so consider ordering an appetizer as your meal, or splitting two appetizers between you and a friend. You’ll get to sample more than one food without destroying your diet.

1/2 the plate=1/2 the calories

10. Go Local

Instead of dining out at large chain restaurants, seek out local spots that use local products in their menu items. Restaurants that pride themselves on providing fresh, local foods will likely provide healthier options and use less fatty food additions such as butter and heavy sauces that will cover up the natural flavors in the food. The less distance your food travels before it hits your plate, the more nutrients it retains, so you can also reap the benefit of healthy vitamins and minerals in your meal.

Who says fresh and healthy can’t be tasty too?!

*Whatever your plans this weekend, the Firefighter Fitness team wishes you a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday!!!!!

Diet Derailers: Why that Weight Just Won’t Go!

You’ve been eating healthy, hitting the gym on a regular basis, and yet still can’t seem to get rid of those last few pounds. So, what gives? While the formula for weight loss is simple: eat better, eat less, move more, there are a few common mistakes that people make that can end up standing between them and their goals. Becoming aware of these things can help you to make smarter decisions in the future and finally shed those extra pounds. Check out our list of common diet dilemmas and exercise errors and our solutions to help fix the problem, and put the pudge away for good!

1. You’re not eating as healthy as you think you are.

Sure, you’re avoiding the “bad” foods: chips, cookies, candy, etc., but how do you know just how healthy you’re actually eating? If you go out to eat often, there are likely some extra calories hiding in that seemingly nutritious dish. For example, you decide to go with a side of veggies instead of your usual order of fries. Sounds pretty good, right? Sure, it’s better than the fries, but those veggies may be grilled up in a vat of butter, adding unwanted calories and fat to an unknowing you. Be specific when ordering so that you know what’s going into your food. Remember that the word “drizzled” means “dunked,” and “sprinkled” means “smothered.” Restaurants use a lot more of an ingredient than you may think. Also, check yourself when cooking at home to make sure you’re not guilty of adding unwanted calories to your healthy meals. Get rid of the butter, vegetable oils, and heavy dressings, and lighten up with margarine, olive oil, and spices. Check out our spice article for more info on healthy seasonings you can use to spare the fat without sacrificing flavor.

 Your salad’s no good if you smother these on top!

2. Your portions are super-sized.

One thing a lot of people don’t realize is how small portion sizes actually are. Restaurant servings are often two or three times larger than what a portion should really look like, and it’s easy to use similar serving sizes when cooking at home. A good rule of thumb is to visually divide your plate into thirds. Protein and carbs should each make up 1/4 of the plate, and veggies should take up the other half. Another good idea is to use a smaller plate. It may sound silly, but I often use my salad plates rather than my dinner plates at home so I won’t accidentally overdo it when serving myself. Also, be sure to read the nutrition labels on food packages, so you can see what a serving of each food item is. Take cereal, for example. The calorie content may be 100 calories per serving, but the serving size is 2/3 of a cup. If you’re dumping half the box into your bowl each morning, you could be adding a couple hundred calories to your daily intake without even realizing it. Read those labels!

um…eating for two?

3. You’re over-fueling post-workout.

I actually hear this one a lot: “I don’t want to work out because I’ll be hungrier during the day and I’ll eat more, so then I won’t end up losing weight.” I apologize if you’ve used this excuse, but that’s really all it is…an excuse. Sure, you need to fuel your body properly before and after exercising in order to reap the benefits. However, unless you’re training for the Olympics, your body really doesn’t need much more than it did before you started hitting the gym. There are calorie calculators online that will help you to determine how many calories you need daily based on your activity level and weight loss goals. Check out: http://www.cancer.org/healthy/toolsandcalculators/calculators/app/calorie-counter-calculator to see how much you really need to eat each day.

It’s ok, she worked out today.

4. You succumb to the “snack attack.”

So, you eat three healthy meals a day, and that’s great! But what about that handful of M&Ms you snagged from the office candy jar this morning? What about that trip to the soda machine for that afternoon pick-me-up? What about the extra bites of food you tasted while fixing dinner for your family? Though you may not realize it, these things add up. Even if you eat healthy, mindless snacking can derail your diet and put the pause button on your weight loss. So check yourself. Do you find yourself casually snacking on whatever goodie that’s been left in the office break room? Do you end up grazing the fridge for a snack while watching TV? If so, try to be more cautious of the times you are most at risk for mindless snacking. Try chewing a piece of gum to distract you, and stay away from areas such as the snack machines where you may be tempted to sneak a snack. Also, you may want to just remove unhealthy snack items from your house or desk, or at least buy them in individually wrapped portions to prevent you from overeating.

Back away from the snack foods!

5. You watch what you eat, but not what you drink.

This rule is no one’s favorite, but what you drink definitely has an effect on your weight loss. Obviously, alcohol can be a major diet deterrent, depending on what and how much you drink. I’m not saying you have to sacrifice your social life, but be aware of how many drinks you are having, and opt for beer, wine, or calorie-free mixers instead of the sugary stuff. Alcohol isn’t the only culprit, however. If you’re a coffee drinker, be mindful of what you’re adding to that morning cup of java. Sugar and creamer can pack on the calories, especially if you have more than one cup a day. Also, limit (or better, eliminate) juices, energy and sports drinks, as they contain added sugars and calories that can really add up.

6. You avoid the weight room like the plague.

A common misconception about women and weight lifting is that if they do it, they’ll bulk up, so they should stick to cardio if they want to lose weight. Wrong. Sure, cardio burns calories and is thus an important part of a fitness regimen, but you need a combo of both cardio and weight training to slim down and tone up. Weight training is important for women in particular, because it increases bone density and can help prevent osteoporosis later in life. So instead of piddling around on the elliptical for an hour, try incorporating some basic weight training into your routine.

He’ll be losing weight in no time!

7. You diet, but don’t exercise, or vice-versa.

This one seems obvious, but it’s one I encounter on a pretty regular basis. You want to lose weight, so you just go on a diet. Or you hire a trainer or purchase a gym membership, but you fail to change your eating habits. This will stop weight loss dead in its tracks. While you may lose weight to a point, you cannot reach your goals without both diet and exercise. If you find yourself doing one and not the other, try incorporating both into your routine, and you will start seeing results.

Ya gotta have both!

 

Pick Your Protein: How to Find the Bar that’s Best for You

Let’s face it: we all want to eat healthy foods, but sometimes it’s hard to find time to purchase and prepare balanced meals every day. It’s also hard to know how much protein, fat, vitamins, carbs, etc. we need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. So while sticking to whole, natural foods is ideal, sometimes we simply have to resort to a quick and easy form of nutrition. Enter, the protein bar. Protein bars are widely available in supermarkets and health food stores and come in an array of tasty-sounding flavors, making it easy to resort to when cooking just isn’t an option. They can be a great post-workout snack since they’re quick and convenient and can be tucked into your gym bag when you’re on the go. However, if you don’t know which one is right for you, you could be doing major damage to your diet. Some protein bars are nothing more than glorified candy bars, containing just as much (or more!) sugar and saturated fat. So how do you know which one to choose? There is a lot of online debate over which bars are worth your while and which ones aren’t, so I’ve conducted a little research of my own and come up with a handy guide to choosing the right protein bar for you based on your gender and personal fitness goals…

grocery

So you’re in the nutrition aisle…now what? The first thing you want to assess are your personal needs. The recommended daily value for protein is 50g, which is a good number to strive for unless you are highly active or weight training with the purpose of muscle-building. Consider how much additional protein you typically eat in a day, and find a bar that fits in with your daily intake. You will also want to consider the type of protein in the bar. Most protein bars are made up of soy (plant) protein and whey (animal) protein. While both provide benefits, if your goal is to establish lean muscle, you want to go with a bar offering whey protein.

Another thing you want to consider when choosing a protein bar are its calories, carbs, and sugars. Obviously, if you’re looking to lose weight, you will want to choose a bar with a lower calorie content. Women in general will want to pay attention to the calories as well, as many protein bars are designed for men and thus have way more calories and carbs than a woman’s body needs. However, you do still want a protein bar that includes carbohydrates. Carbs are vital for supplying our bodies with energy as well as helping our bodies to properly use the protein. Again consider the other sources of carbs you are eating daily, and find a bar with the right amount.

*Additional Note: If using a protein bar as a meal replacement, you will want one that offers a bit more calories, carbohydrates, and protein. If using as a post-workout snack, you may want to downsize.

I’m still not sure quite where to start…To better help you navigate the rows of shiny packaging emblazoned with pictures of cookies, chocolate bars, and whatever other baked goods these bars supposedly taste like, we’ve compiled a list of our best and worst picks for protein bars for both men and women.

For the women:

  • Luna Protein: I love the Luna protein bars for several reasons. They clock in at less than 200 calories and provide a good source of protein, fiber, vitamin D and calcium, all which are essential to women’s health. Bonus: they taste pretty good too!

luna bar

  • Pure Protein: Pure protein bars are 180 calories, but provide a whopping 20g of protein with 4.5g of fat and 17g of carbs, making them the perfect post-workout snack. And with flavors like “Chocolate Deluxe” and “Smores,” they’re more of a delight than a diet.

pureprotein

  • 2:1 Protein: These are a little harder to find than the above brands, but you can order them on their website. The bars offer a 2:1 ratio of protein to carbs, and are available in 20-30g (protein) depending on your needs. With only 250 calories per serving, these bars are definitely worth a taste.

21 protein

Worst-

  • Clif: Clif bars are great…if you’re a high-endurance athlete. Most of us don’t really need 40+ grams of carbs and 22g of sugar to get through a typical workout. Opt instead for the Luna bar; they’re made by the same company but with the average person in mind.
  • Quest: Okay, so I’ll give points to the Quest bar for its excellent nutritional value and short list of ingredients. However, this one makes our “worst” list because quite frankly, the taste is awful. I’d compare the texture to something like a glue stick, and no matter what flavor you get, it tastes like cardboard. I guess one bonus would be that my jaw got a workout just trying to chew through the thing.
  • Pro Bar Superfood Slam: These bars may be all natural, but they don’t provide enough protein or fiber to justify the 350 calories and 46g of carbs they pack in. For that, I’d rather just have a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger.

And for the men:

Best-

  • Detour: Voted “Best Protein Bar” by Mens Health Magazine, Detour bars are packed with 30g of muscle-building whey protein. At just over 300 calories, they are also a good source of carbs, and are pretty light on the sugar. These bars get our “firefighter stamp of approval” for both taste and nutritional value.

detour

  • Supreme Protein: These bars were ranked “best” by Muscle & Fitness Magazine, due to a high level of consumer popularity. Available in two variations; one with 15g and one with 30g of whey protein, these bars also provide amino acids which help your body to break down and use the protein efficiently.

supremeproteinbars1

  • Met-RX: This one is highly debated, but the reason I chose it was that not only does it offer 32g of protein (a blend of both soy and whey), but it also provides vitamins such as vitamin B, which helps replenish nutritional stores and energy post-workout.

metrx

Worst-

  • Muscle Brownie: While these are really tasty, you might as well just have the real thing. These brownies offer the same calorie count as our “best” picks, yet only 20g of protein, and a whopping 24g of sugar.
  • PowerBar Protein Plus: These bars aren’t that bad, but there are simply better bars out there for men. At 210 calories and 20g of protein, you might need two of these to just replenish after a hard workout. Why not just grab a bar that packs enough of the good stuff?

*Ultimately, I can’t really tell you exactly which protein bar you should choose, because the right one for me may not be the right one for you. Use this as a guide, but do your research and pick the protein bar that fits in with your level of activity and dietary needs.